Bowling season: Can a season average of 200 be attained?

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

We started last year back in September. Thirty-three weeks later, we are finally done. I’m talking about our Tuesday night bowling league. Because of a Tuesday night fourth-grade violin concert, a Tuesday night radio job covering the election last November and one other Tuesday night family obligation, I bowled 30 of the 33 weeks.

One of my goals going into the season was to increase my average from last year by 5 pins. I was determined to go from a 195 up to 200. Since I bowled a total of 90 games, that means I needed 18,000 pins for the year.

Going into the final week, I knew I had to have a 603 series on the last night of the season to reach that goal. The pressure was on.

I started out the first game pretty shaky. I rolled an opening game of 171. I knew I had just dug a huge hole for myself.

Doing some quick math, I immediately realized I now needed to roll back-to-back games of at least 216, not entirely impossible, but a real challenge.

Game No. 2 was significantly better than the first. I rolled a 210. Another quick trip to the mental calculator, and I knew I was now 222 pins away from reaching my season-long goal.

It came down to the final 10 frames of a very long season. I opened the final game of the year with three straight strikes. Things were rolling along smoothly.

I hit a snag in the seventh frame. My spare attempt on a lone 10 pin missed by a whisker on the left-hand side. An open frame, not what I wanted. Deep breath, let it go, recover. Eighth frame yielded a spare. Strike in the foundation frame.

It was time for some more quick math. I needed to close the game with two strikes and at least a 5-count on the final ball, and the 200 average was all mine.

First ball of the tenth was right in the pocket, all 10 pins in the air at the same time, a very nice strike. Another deep breath, reach, relax and roll were the three words going through my mind.

I let go of that ball as smoothly as any previous strike I’d thrown all night, I hit my mark, the ball was tracking perfectly, it smashed the 1-3 pocket, perfect hit. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the 8 pin was left standing. My season was over.

I picked up the spare and finished with a 218. That gave me a 599 series and a season total of 17,996 pins. Four lousy pins short of the 18,000 I needed for the magical 200 season average.

I can’t tell you how many times I have replayed that opening 171 game in my mind. It’s a classic case of woulda, coulda, shoulda. But I didn’t. I ended the 2010-11 season with a 199.955 average, better than last year, but still short of where I wanted to be.

I guess that means I’ll have something to shoot for when this September rolls around, and we start another long fall and winter bowling season.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the April 27-May 3, 2011 issue

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